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For other uses, see Calabria (disambiguation).
Region of Italy
Satellite view of Calabria
Satellite view of Calabria
Flag of Calabria
Coat of arms of Calabria
Coat of arms
Calabria in Italy.svg
Country Italy
Capital Catanzaro
 • President Mario Oliverio (PD)
 • Total 15,080 km2 (5,820 sq mi)
Population (2014-1-1)
 • Total 1,980,533
 • Density 130/km2 (340/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Calabrian(s) / Calabrese / Calabresi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
GDP/ Nominal €33.6[1] billion (2008)
GDP per capita €16,400[2] (2008)

Calabria (Italian pronunciation: [kaˈlaːbrja]; Calàbbria in Calabrian, Calavría in Calabrian Greek, Καλαβρία in Greek, Kalavrì in Arbëresh), known in antiquity as Bruttium or formerly as Italia, is a region in Southern Italy, forming the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula.

The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro. Its most populated city, and the seat of the Regional Council of Calabria, is Reggio Calabria in the Province of Reggio Calabria.

The region is bordered to the north by the Basilicata Region, to the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea, and to the east by the Ionian Sea. The region covers 15,080 km2 (5,822 sq mi) and has a population of just under 2 million. The demonym of Calabria in English is Calabrian.

In ancient times Calabria was referred to as "Italy".[3] The Romans later extended the name to cover Southern Italy and then the entire peninsula, whereas the name Calabria was used to refer to the peninsula of Salento (also known as the "heel" of Italy).

Calabria also has the cleanest air in Europe. This was discovered during a 2010 air analysis in which nanopathologists[4] found that a particular area in the Sila National Park had the cleanest air in Europe.[5][6][7][8][9][10]


Cliff at Tropea
La Sila National Park
Calabria, photography taken from the ISS[11]

The region is a long and narrow peninsula which stretches from north to south for 248 km (154 mi), with a maximum width of 110 km (68 mi). Some 42% of Calabria's area, corresponding to 15,080 km2, is mountainous, 49% is hilly, while plains occupy only 9% of the region's territory. It is surrounded by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas. It is separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina, where the narrowest point between Capo Peloro in Sicily and Punta Pezzo in Calabria is only 3.2 km (2 mi).

Three mountain ranges are present: Pollino, La Sila and Aspromonte. All three mountain ranges are unique with their own flora and fauna. The Pollino Mountains in the north of the region are rugged and form a natural barrier separating Calabria from the rest of Italy. Parts of the area are heavily wooded, while others are vast, wind-swept plateaus with little vegetation. These mountains are home to a rare Bosnian Pine variety, and are included in the Pollino National Park.

La Sila, which has been referred to as the "Great Wood of Italy",[12][13][14] is a vast mountainous plateau about 1,200 metres above sea level and stretches for nearly 2,000 km2 (772 sq mi) along the central part of Calabria. The highest point is Botte Donato, which reaches 1,928 metres. The area boasts numerous lakes and dense coniferous forests. La Sila also has some of the tallest trees in Italy which are called the "Giants of the Sila" and can reach up to 40 meters in height.[15][16][17]

The Aspromonte massif forms the southernmost tip of the Italian peninsula bordered by the sea on three sides. This unique mountainous structure reaches its highest point at Montalto, at 1,995 metres, and is full of wide, man-made terraces that slope down towards the sea.

In general, most of the lower terrain in Calabria has been agricultural for centuries, and exhibits indigenous scrubland as well as introduced plants such as the prickly pear cactus. The lowest slopes are rich in vineyards and citrus fruit orchards. The Diamante citron is one of the citrus fruits. Moving upwards, olives and chestnut trees appear while in the higher regions there are often dense forests of oak, pine, beech and fir trees.


Calabria's climate is influenced by the sea and mountains. The Mediterranean climate is typical of the coastal areas with considerable differences in temperature and rainfall between them, with an average low of 8 °C (46 °F) during the winter months and an average high of 30 °C (86 °F) during the summer months. Mountain areas have a typical mountainous climate with frequent snow during winter. Erratic behavior of the Tyrrhenian Sea can bring heavy rainfall on the western slopes of the region, while hot air from Africa makes the east coast of Calabria dry and warm. The mountains that run along the region also influence the climate and temperature of the region. The east coast is much warmer and has wider temperature ranges than the west coast. The geography of the region causes more rain to fall along the west coast than that of the east coast, which occurs mainly during winter and autumn and less during the summer months.[18]


Geotectonic map of the Central Mediterranean Area and the Calabrian Arc. The blue trace indicates the position of the geotectonic cross section depicted below. From van Dijk (1992)[19]
Geotectonic Cross Section of the Calabrian Arc. Left: NW; Right: SE. From van Dijk (1992)[19]

When describing the geology of Calabria, it is commonly considered as part of the "Calabrian Arc", an arc-shaped geographic domain extending from the southern part of the Basilicata Region to the northeast of Sicily, and including the Peloritano Mountains (although some authors extend this domain from Naples in the North up to Palermo in the Southwest). The Calabrian area shows basement (crystalline and metamorphic rocks) of Paleozoic and younger ages, covered by (mostly Upper) Neogene sediments. Studies have revealed that these rocks comprise the upper Unit of a pile of thrust sheets which dominate the Apennines and the Sicilian Maghrebides.[19]

The Neogene evolution of the Central Mediterranean system is dominated by the migration of the Calabrian Arc to the southeast, overriding the African Plate and its promontories (Argand, 1922;[20] Boccaletti and Guazzone, 1972[21]). The main tectonic elements of the Calabrian Arc are the Southern Apennines fold-and-thrust belt, the "Calabria-Peloritani", or simply Calabrian block and the Sicilian Maghrebides fold-and-thrust belt. The foreland area is formed by the Apulia Platform, which is part of the Adriatic Plate, and the Ragusa or Iblean Platform, which is an extension of the African Plate. These platforms are separated by the Ionian Basin. The Tyrrhenian oceanized basin is regarded as the back-arc basin. This subduction system therefore shows the southern plates of African affinity subducting below the northern plates of European affinity.[19]

The geology of Calabria has been studied for more than a century. For details concerning the older literature, i.e. from before 1973, the reader is referred to the review of Ogniben (1973).[22] Ippolito (1959)[23] presented a complete bibliography of the literature on the Calabrian geology as published up until that moment. Books, reviews and important "mile¬stones" concerning the geology of the Calabrian Arc are the following: Cortese (1895),[24] Limanowski (1913),[25] Quitzow (1935),[26] Caire et al. (1960),[27] Caire (1961),[28] Grandjacquet et al. (1961),[29] Ogniben (1969,[30] 1973[22] ), Caire (1970,[31] 1975,[32] 1978[33] ), Burton (1971),[34] Amodio-Morelli et al. (1976),[35] Dubois (1976),[36] Grandjacquet and Mascle (1978),[37] Moussat (1983),[38] van Dijk (1992),[39] and van Dijk et al. (2000).[19] The earlier works were mainly dedicated to the evolution of the basement rocks of the area. The Neogene sedimentary successions were merely regarded as "post-orogenic" infill of "neo-tectonic" tensional features. In the course of time, however, a shift can be observed in the temporal significance of these terms, from post-Eocene to post-Early Miocene to post-middle Pleistocene.[19]

The area is seismically and volcanically highly active. This is generally ascribed to the re-establishment of an equilibrium after the latest (mid-Pleistocene) deformation phase. Some authors believe that the subduction process is still ongoing, which is a matter of debate (van Dijk & Scheepers, 1995).[40]


Further information: Sicily (theme)
Magna Grecia around 280 BC

Calabria has one of the oldest records of human presence in Italy, which date back to around 700,000 BC when a type of Homo Erectus evolved leaving traces around coastal areas.[41][42][43] During the Paleolithic period stone age man created the "Bos Primigenius", a figure of a bull on a cliff which dates back around 12,000 years in the Cave of Romito in the town of Papasidero.[44][45] When the Neolithic period came the first villages were founded around 3,500 BC.[46][47]

Around 1500 BC a tribe called the Oenotri ("vine-cultivators"), settled in the region. According to Greek mythology they were Greeks who were led to the region by their king, Oenotrus. The Greeks used the term 'italoi', which according to some ancient Greek writers was derived from a legendary king of the Oenotri, Italus and according to others from the bull. Originally the Greeks used 'italoi' to indicate Calabria and later it became synonymous with the rest of the peninsula. Calabria therefore was the first region to be called Italia (Italy).[48][49][50][51][52] In the mid to late Republican period it referred to the Italian peninsula and did not include northern Italy (Gallia Cisaplina). Augustus incorporated Gallia Cisaplina into the region of Italia.[49][53]

During the eighth and seventh centuries BC, Greek settlers founded many colonies (settlements) on the coast of southern Italy (Magna Grecia). In Calabria they founded Chone (Pallagorio), Cosentia (Cosenza), Clampetia (Amantea), Scyllaeum (Scilla), Sybaris (Sibari), Hipponion (Vibo Valentia), Locri Epizefiri (Locri), Kaulon (Monasterace), Krimisa (Cirò Marina), Kroton (Crotone), Laüs (comune of Santa Maria del Cedro), Medma (Rosarno), Metauros (Gioia Tauro), Petelia (Strongoli), Rhégion (Reggio Calabria), Scylletium (Borgia), Temesa (Campora San Giovanni), Terina (Nocera Terinese), Pandosia (Acri) and Thurii, (Thurio, comune of Corigliano Calabro).

Rhegion was the birthplace of one of the famed nine lyric poets, Ibycus. Metauros was the birthplace of another of the nine lyric poets, Stesichorus, who was the first lyric poet of the western world. Kroton spawned many victors during the ancient Olympics and other Panhellenic Games. Amongst the most famous were Milo of Croton, who won six wrestling events in six Olympics in a row, along with seven events in the Pythian Games, nine events in the Nemean Games and ten events in the Isthmian Games and also Astylos of Croton, who won six running events in three Olympics in a row.[54] Through Alcmaeon of Croton (a philosopher and medical theorist) and Pythagoras (a mathematician and philosopher), who moved to Kroton in 530 BC, the city became a renowned center of philosophy, science and medicine. The Greeks of Sybaris created "Intellectual Property." [55] Sybaris benefited from "vinoducts" which were a series of pipes that carried wine to the homes of its citizens.[56][57] The Sybarite founded at least 20 other colonies, including Poseidonia (Paestum in Latin, on the Tyrrhenian coast of Lucania), Laüs (on the border with Lucania) and Scidrus (on the Lucanian coast in the Gulf of Taranto).[58] Locri was renowned for being the town where Zaleucus created the first Western Greek law, the "Locrian Code" [59][60] and the birthplace of ancient epigrammist and poet Nossis.

The Greek cites of Calabria came under the pressure of the Lucanians, an Oscan people who lived in the present day region of Basilicata. They conquered the north of Calabria and pushed further south, taking over part of the interior, probably after they defeated the Thurians near Laus in 390 BC. A few decades later Calabria came under pressure from the Bruttii. They were Lucanian slaves and other fugitives who were seeking refuge on the steep mountains of Calabria. Their name was Lucanian and meant rebels. They took advantage of the weakening of the Greek cites caused by wars between them. They took over Hipponium, Terina and Thurii. They helped the Lucanians to fight Alexander of Epirus (334-32 BC), who had come to the aid of Tarentum (in Apulia), which was also pressured by the Lucanians. After this, Agathocles of Syracuse ravaged the coast of Calabria with his fleet, took Hipponium and forced the Bruttii into unfavourable peace terms. However, they soon seized Hipponium again. After Agathloces' death in 289 BC the Lucanians and Brutti pushed into the territory of Thurii and ravaged it. The city sent envoys to Rome to ask for help in 285 BC and 282 BC. On the second occasion, the Romans sent forces to garrison the city. This was part of the episode which sparked the Pyrrhic war.

During the Pyrrhic War (280-275 BC) the Lucanians and Bruttii sided with Pyrrhus and provided contingents which fought with his army. When Pyrrhus landed in Italy the people of Rhegion were worried about their safety and asked Rome for protection. The Romans sent soldiers from Campania to garrison the city. Coveting the wealth of the city, the soldiers killed its prominent men, sent away the rest and seized their property. The Romans could not do much about it because they were engaged in the war. A few years after the end of the war, in 271 BC, the Romans retook the city, arrested the soldiers and took them to Rome, where they were executed.[61] After Pyrrhus was defeated, to avoid Roman revenge, the Bruttii submitted willingly and gave up half of the Sila, a mountainous plateau which was valuable for its pitch and timber. The timber here was sold all over Italy and the resin of the area was of the highest quality.[62]

During the Second Punic War (218-201 BC) the Bruttii allied with Hannibal, who sent Hanno, one of his commanders, to Calabria. Hanno marched towards Capua (in Campania) with Bruttian soldiers to take them to Hannibal's headquarters there twice, but he was defeated on both occasions. When his campaign in Italy came to a dead end, Hannibal took refuge in Calabria, whose steep mountains provided protection against the Roman legions. He set up his headquarters in Kroton and stayed there for four years until he was recalled to Carthage. The Romans fought a battle with him near Kroton, but its details are unknown. Many Calabrian cities surrendered.[63] Calabria was put under a military commander. Nearly a decade after the war, the Romans set up colonies in Calabria: at Tempsa and Kroton (Croto in Latin) in 194 BC, Copiae in the territory of Thurii (Thurium in Latin) in 193 BC, and Vibo Valentia in the territory of Hipponion in 192 BC.[64] The Romans called Calabria Bruttium. Later, during the reign of Augustus it became part of the third region of Italy, the 'Regio III Lucania et Bruttium.[65]

After sacking Rome in 410, Alaric I (King of the Visigoths) went to Calabria with the intention of sailing to Africa. He contracted malaria and died in Cosentia (Cosenza), probably of fever. Legend has it that he along with the treasure of Rome were buried under the bed of the River Busento.[66] With the fall of the western part of the Roman Empire, Italy was taken over by the Ostrogoths and became part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom in the late fifth century. During the sixth century, under the Ostrogoths, Cassiodorus emerged as one of the most prominent men of his time. He was an administrator, politician, scholar and historian who was born in Scylletium (near Catanzaro). He spent most of his career trying to bridge the divides of East and West, Greek and Latin cultures, Romans and Goths, and official Christianity and Arian Christianity, which was the form of Christianity of the Ostrogoths and which had earlier been banned. He set up his Vivarium monastery (monastery school) in Scylletium. He oversaw the collation of three editions of the Bible in Latin. Seeing the practicality of uniting all the books of the Bible in one volume, he was the first who produced Latin Bibles in single volumes.[67] The most well-known of them was the Codex Grandior which was the ancestor of all modern western Bibles.[68][69][70][70]

Cassiodorus was at the heart of the administration of the Ostrogothic kingdom. Theodoric made him quaestor sacri palatii (quaestor of the sacred palace, the senior legal authority) in 507, governor of Lucania and Bruttium, consul in 514 and magister officiorum (master of offices, one of the most senior administrative officials) in 523. He was praetorian prefect (chief minister) under the successors of Theodoric: under Athalaric (Theodoric's grandson, reigned 526-34) in 533 and, between 535 and 537, under Theodahad (Theodoric's nephew, reigned 534-36) and Witiges (Theodoric's grandson-in-law, reigned, 536-40).[71] The major works of Cassiodorus, besides the mentioned bibles, were the Historia Gothorum, a history of the Goths, the Variae and account of his administrative career and the Institutiones divinarum et saecularium litterarum, an introduction to the study of the sacred scriptures and the liberal arts which was very influential in the Middle Ages.

Byzantine emperor Justinian I, retook Italy from The Ostrogoths. They soon lost much of Italy to the Lombards, but they retained the south, where they thrived. In Calabria and towns such as Stilo and Rossano achieved great religious status. Today these two towns still retain much of their Byzantine heritage. Their best examples of Byzantine architecture are their churches, Stilo's La Cattolica and Rossano’s San Marco Evangelista. From the 7th Century many monasteries were built in the Amendolea and Stilaro Valleys and Stilo was the destination of hermits and Basilian monks who lived in the grottoes and built the church which is a unique gem of Byzantine architecture. The 10th-century church in Rossano is considered one of the best preserved Byzantine churches in Italy. It was built by St. Nilus the Younger as a retreat for the monks who lived in the tufa grottos underneath. The present name of Calabria comes from the Byzantine duchy of Calabria.

Around the year 800, Saracens began invading the shores of Calabria, attempting to wrest control of the area from the Byzantines. This group of Arabs had already been successful in Sicily and knew that Calabria was another key spot. The people of Calabria retreated into the mountains for safety. Although the Arabs never really got a stronghold on the whole of Calabria, they did control some villages while enhancing trade relations with the eastern world.[72] In 918, Saracens captured Reggio (which was renamed Rivà) and sold the majority of its population in the slave markets of Sicily and North Africa.[73] It is during this time of Arab invasions that many staples of today’s Calabrian cuisine came into fashion: citrus fruits and eggplants for example. Exotic spices such as cloves and nutmeg were also introduced.[47]

In the 1060s the Normans, under the leadership of Robert Guiscard's brother, Roger I of Sicily, established a presence in this borderland, and organized a government along Byzantine lines that was run by the local Greek magnates of Calabria. Guiscard's son Bohemond, who was born in San Marco Argentano, would be one of the leaders in the first crusade. In 1098, Roger I of Sicily was named the equivalent of an apostolic legate by Pope Urban II and later his son Roger II of Sicily became the first King of Sicily and formed what would become the Kingdom of Sicily which lasted nearly 700 years. Under the Normans Southern Italy was united as one region and started a feudal system of land ownership in which the Normans were made lords of the land while Calabrian peasants performed all the work on the land.[47]

In 1194 the Swabians took control under Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. He created a kingdom that blended cultures, philosophy and customs and would build several castles while fortifying existing ones which the Normans previously constructed. After the death of Frederick II in 1250, Calabria was controlled by the Angevins under the rule of Charles d’Anjou after being granted the crown by Pope Clement IV. Under Charles d’Anjou the Kingdom of Sicily was changed to the Kingdom of Naples in 1282 after he lost Sicily due to the rebellion of the Sicilian Vespers.[47] During the 14th century, would emerge Barlaam of Seminara who would be Petrarch's Greek teacher and his disciple Leonzio Pilato, who would translate Homer's works for Giovanni Boccaccio.

In 1442 the Aragonese took control under Alfonso V of Aragon who became ruler under the Crown of Aragon. In 1501 Calabria came under the control of Ferdinand II of Aragon who was famed for sponsoring the first voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492. Calabria suffered greatly under Aragonese rule with heavy taxes, feuding landlords, starvation and sickness. After a brief period in the early 1700s under the Austrian Hapsburgs, Calabria came into the control of the Bourbons in 1735.[47] It was during Spanish rule that Calabria would contribute to modern world history with the creation of the Gregorian calendar by the Calabrian doctor and astronomer Luigi Lilio.[74][75][76]

In 1563 philosopher and natural scientist Bernardino Telesio wrote "On the Nature of Things according to their Own Principles" and pioneered early modern empiricism. He would also influence the works of Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella and Thomas Hobbes.[77][78][79][80][81] In 1602 philosopher and poet Tommaso Campanella wrote his most famous work, "The City of the Sun" and would later defend Galileo Galilei during his first trial with his work "A Defense of Galileo", which was written in 1616 and published in 1622.[82] In 1613 philosopher and economist Antonio Serra wrote "A Short Treatise on the Wealth and Poverty of Nations" and was a pioneer in the Mercantilist tradition.[83]

At the end of the 18th century the French took control and in 1808 Napoleon Bonaparte gave the Kingdom of Naples to his brother-in-law Joachim Murat. Murat controlled the kingdom until the return of the Bourbons in 1815.

Calabria experienced a series of peasant revolts as part of the European Revolutions of 1848. This set the stage for the eventual unification with the rest of Italy in 1861, when the Kingdom of Naples was brought into the union by Giuseppe Garibaldi. The Aspromonte was the scene of a famous battle of the unification of Italy. During the late 19th or early 20th century, pianist and composer Alfonso Rendano invented the "Third Pedal",[84] which augmented the interpretative resources of the piano.

The administrative divisions created in the late medieval times were maintained right through until unification: Calabria Citeriore (or Latin Calabria) in the northern half and Calabria Ulteriore (or Greek Calabria) in the southern half. By the end of the Middle Ages, large parts of Calabria continued to speak Greek as their mother tongue.[85] During the 13th century a French chronicler who travelled through Calabria stated that “the peasants of Calabria spoke nothing but Greek”.[86] By the 15th and 16th centuries, the Greek spoken in Calabria was rapidly replaced by Latin, the dominant language of the Italian Peninsula through a process of Italianization.[87] Today, the last remnants of the Greek formerly spoken widely throughout Calabria can still be heard amongst the ethnically Greek Griko people of the Aspromonte mountains of southern Calabria.


Calabria is one of the least developed regions in Italy, although the high degree of tax evasion makes it difficult to verify these statistics. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Calabria is subdivided as follows: service industry (28.94%), financial activities and real estate (21.09%), trade, tourism, transportation and communication (19.39%), taxation (11.49%), manufacturing (8.77%), construction (6.19%) and agriculture (4.13%).[88] Its economy is hampered by the fact that it is beset by corruption and organized crime which is mainly run by the 'Ndrangheta (the local Mafia syndicate).


Food and textile industries are the most developed and vibrant. Within the industrial sector, manufacturing contributes to a gross value added of 7.2%. In the manufacturing sector the main branches are foodstuff, beverage and tobacco with a contribution to the sector very close to the national average.[89] Over the recent decades have emerged some petrochemical, engineering and chemical industries, within the areas of Crotone, Vibo Valentia and Reggio Calabria.


The 485 miles of its coast make Calabria a popular tourist destination during the summer. The low industrial development and the lack of large cities in much of its territory have allowed the maintenance of low levels of marine pollution. In fact, the region is considered by many a natural paradise, which attracts a number of tourists from all over Italy. Foreign tourism is still low compared to similar places, but it is growing each year. The most popular seaside destinations are: Tropea, Pizzo Calabro, Capo Vaticano, Reggio Calabria, Soverato, Scilla, Scalea, Sellia Marina, Montepaone, Montauro, Copanello (comune of Staletti), Tonnara di Palmi, Diamante, Paola, Fiumefreddo Bruzio, Amantea, Praia a Mare, Belvedere Marittimo, Roseto Capo Spulico, Corigliano Calabro, Cirò Marina, Amendolara, Roccella Ionica, Bagnara Calabra, Nicotera, Cariati, Zambrone, Isola di Capo Rizzuto, Caminia (comune of Staletti), Siderno, Parghelia, Ricadi and San Nicola Arcella.

In addition to the most popular coastal tourist destinations, the interior of Calabria is rich in history, traditions, art and culture that attract a discrete number of tourists. Cosenza is among the most important cultural cities of Calabria, with a rich historical and artistic patrimony. Medieval castles, towers, churches, monasteries and other structures from the Byzantine to the Aragonese periods are common elements in both the interior and coastline of Calabria.

Some mountain locations attract tourists even in winter. Sila, Pollino and Aspromonte are three national parks that offer facilities for winter sports, especially in the towns of Camigliatello (comune of Spezzano della Sila), Lorica (comune of San Giovanni in Fiore), Gambarie and Monte Sant'Elia (comune of Palmi).


Calabrian olive tree plantations

A typical feature is agricultural richness in Calabria. The region boasts the second highest number of organic farmers only after Sicily.[90] The olive tree, representing 29.6% of UAA and represents approximately 70% of tree crops.[89] The region is the second-highest for olive oil production.[91] The Bergamot orange is intensively cultivated, since the 18th century,[92] exclusively in coastal area nearby to Reggio, where it found its optimal geological and weather conditions: essence oil from Calabrian Bergamot reach the best quality in the world. Calabria is also the largest producer of Porcini Mushrooms in Italy.[93][94]

Infrastructure and transport[edit]

The seaport of Gioia Tauro

The main Calabrian ports are in Reggio and in Gioia Tauro. The Reggio port is equipped with five loading docks of a length of 1,530 metres. The Gioia Tauro port has seven loading docks with an extension of 4,646 metres; it is the largest in Italy and the seventh largest container port in Europe,[95] with a 2007 throughput of 3.7 million TEUs[96] from more than 3,000 ships.

The region is served by three heavily used roads: two national highways along the coasts (SS18 Napoli-Reggio and SS106 Reggio-Taranto) and the A3 motorway, which links Naples and Reggio, passing by Salerno and Cosenza along the old inland route.

In Calabria there are three main airports: one is situated in Reggio, a few kilometres from city centre, built in 1939 is chronologically the first airport in Calabria; another is located in Lamezia Terme municipality area, currently being the first airport in Calabria concerning the number of passengers per year; the other near the town of Crotone.[89]


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1861 1,155,000 —    
1871 1,219,000 +5.5%
1881 1,282,000 +5.2%
1901 1,439,000 +12.2%
1911 1,526,000 +6.0%
1921 1,627,000 +6.6%
1931 1,723,000 +5.9%
1936 1,772,000 +2.8%
1951 2,044,000 +15.3%
1961 2,045,000 +0.0%
1971 1,988,000 −2.8%
1981 2,061,000 +3.7%
1991 2,070,000 +0.4%
2001 2,011,000 −2.9%
2011 1,959,000 −2.6%
2015 (Est.) 1,972,149 +0.7%
Source: ISTAT 2001

The following is a list of Calabrian municipalities with a population of over 20,000:[97]

  1. Reggio Calabria – 186,013 inhabitants
  2. Catanzaro – 93,265
  3. Lamezia Terme – 71,123
  4. Cosenza – 69,827
  5. Crotone – 61,529
  6. Corigliano Calabro – 40,533
  7. Rossano – 38,280
  8. Rende – 35,352
  9. Vibo Valentia – 33,857
  10. Castrovillari – 22,518
  11. Acri – 21,263
  12. Montalto Uffugo – 20,553

Government and politics[edit]

Main article: Politics of Calabria

Sister cities and countries[edit]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Calabria is divided into five provinces:

Provinces of Calabria.

Province Population
Province of Cosenza 734,260
Province of Reggio Calabria 565,813
Province of Catanzaro 368,318
Province of Crotone 174,076
Province of Vibo Valentia 166,760

Main sights[edit]

The Riace bronzes, Greek bronzes, about 460-430 BC
The Byzantine church known as the Cattolica

Tourism in Calabria has increased over the years. The main tourist attractions are the coastline and the mountains. The coastline alternates between rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, and is sparsely interrupted by development when compared to other European seaside destinations. The sea around Calabria is clear, and there is a good level of tourist accommodation. The poet Gabriele D'Annunzio called the coast facing Sicily near Reggio Calabria "... the most beautiful kilometer in Italy" (il più bel chilometro d'Italia).[100][101] The primary mountain tourist draws are Aspromonte and La Sila, with its national park and lakes. Some other prominent destinations include:

  • Reggio Calabria is on the strait between the mainland and Sicily, the largest and oldest city in Calabria dating from the 8th century BC, renowned for its panoramic seaside with botanical gardens between the art nouveau buildings and the beautiful beaches, and its 3,000 years of history with its Aragonese Castle and the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia where the famous Riace bronzes (Bronzi di Riace) are located.
  • Cosenza, birthplace of scientist and philosopher Bernardino Telesio and seat of the Cosentian Academy, renowned for its cultural institutions, the beautiful old quarter, a Hohenstaufen Castle, an open-air museum and an 11th-century Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral. On the 12th of October 2011, the Cathedral of Cosenza received UNESCO World Heritage status for being "Heritage Witness to a Culture of Peace".[102][103] This is the first award given by UNESCO to the region of Calabria.
  • Scilla, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, "pearl" of the "Violet Coast", has a delightful panorama and is the site of some of Homer's tales.
  • Tropea, on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, is home to a dramatic seaside beach, and the Santa Maria dell'Isola sanctuary. It is also renowned for its sweet red onions (mainly produced in Ricadi).
  • Capo Vaticano, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, is a very famous wide bathing place near Tropea.
  • Gerace, near Locri, is a beautiful medieval city with a Norman Castle and Norman Cathedral.
  • Squillace, a seaside resort and important archaeological site. Nearby is the birthplace of Cassiodorus.
  • Stilo, the birthplace of philosopher Tommaso Campanella, with its Norman Castle and beautiful Byzantine church, the Cattolica.
  • Pizzo Calabro, on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, known for its ice cream called "Tartufo". Interesting places in Pizzo are Piazza Repubblica and the Aragonese castle where Murat was shot.
  • Paola, a town situated on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, renowned for being the birthplace of St. Francis of Paola, patron saint of Calabria and Italian sailors, and for the old Franciscan sanctuary built during the last hundred years of the Middle Ages by the will of St. Francis.
  • Sybaris, on the Ionian sea, a picturesque village situated near the excavation of ancient Sybaris, a Greek colony of the 8th century BC.
  • Lamezia Terme, the main transportation hub of the region with its international airport which links it to many destinations in Europe plus Canada and Israel and the train station. Several are the historical sights of the city, like the Norman-Swabian castle, the Jewish historical quarter and the Casa del Libro Antico (House of the Ancient Book) where books from the 16th to the 19th centuries, as well as old globes and ancient maps reproduction are well preserved and available to be seen by the public.
  • Catanzaro, an important silk center since the time of the Byzantines, is located at the centre of the narrowest point of Italy, from where the Ionian Sea and Tyrrhenian Sea are both visible, but not from Catanzaro. Of note are the well-known one-arch bridge (Viaduct Morandi-Bisantis, one of the tallest in Europe), the Cathedral (rebuilt after World War II bombing), the castle, the promenade on the Ionian sea, the park of biodiversity and the archaeological park.
  • Soverato on the Ionian Sea, also known as the "Pearl" of the Ionian Sea. Especially renowned for its beaches, boardwalk and nightlife.
  • Badolato near Soverato is a well-preserved medieval hilltop village with 13 churches. It was selected as one of the 1000 marvels of Italy to mark the anniversary of the unification of Italy. It is increasingly popular with wealthy foreigners who have renovated the old houses.
  • Nicotera on the Tyrrhenian Sea, is a beautiful little medieval town with an ancient Ruffo's castle.
  • Ancient temples of the Roman gods on the sun-kissed hills of Catanzaro still stand as others are swept beneath the earth. Many excavations are going on along the east coast, digging up what seems to be an ancient burial ground.
  • Samo, a village on the foot of the Aspromonte, is well known for its spring water and ruins of the old village destroyed in the 1908 Messina earthquake.
  • Mammola, art center, tourist and gastronomic, boasts an ancient history. Well worth a visit, the old town, with its small houses attached to each other, the ancient churches and noble palaces. Of particular interest is the Museum Park Santa Barbara, a place of art and cultural events of many international artists and the Shrine of St. Nicodemo of the 10th century, in the highlands of Limina. Its renowned gastronomy with the "Stocco" typical of Mammola, cooked in various ways, other typical products are smoked ricotta and goat cheese, salami pepper and wild fennel, bread "pizza" (corn bread) and wheat bread baked in a wood oven.
  • Praia a Mare on the Tyrrhenian Sea, is a well-known tourist city, thanks to the Isola di Dino and the seaside beach.


Main article: Calabrian languages

Although the official national language of Calabria has been Standard Italian since before unification in 1861, as a consequence of its deep and colourful history, Calabrian dialects have developed that have been spoken in the region for centuries. The Calabrian language is a direct derivative of the Latin language, and is closer to the words spoken in Latin than the standard Italian. Most linguists divide the various dialects into two different language groups. In the northern one-third of the region, the Calabrian dialects are considered part of the Neapolitan language (or Southern Italian) and are grouped as Northern Calabrian or Cosentino. In the southern two-thirds of the region, the Calabrian dialects are often grouped as Central and Southern Calabrian. In many respects, the Calabrian dialect is considered very similar to the Puglian/Salentine dialects spoken in Salento, the region situated on the "heel" of Italy. However, in isolated pockets, as well as some quarters of Reggio Calabria a variety of Occitan can also be found in certain communities and French has had an influence on many Calabrian words and phrases. In addition, since Calabria was once ruled by the Spanish, some Calabrian dialects exhibit Spanish derivatives.


Cathedral of Reggio Calabria

The majority of Calabrians are Roman Catholic. There are also communities of Evangelicals in the region.[104] Calabria has also been called "The Land of Saints" as the region was the birthplace of many saints spanning nearly 2000 years.[105][106][107][108] The most famous saint in Calabria and also the patron saint of the region is St. Francis of Paola. Calabria also has another patron saint called Saint Bruno of Cologne who was the founder of the Carthusian Order. Saint Bruno would build the charterhouse of Serra San Bruno, a town which bears his name, in 1095 and later die there in 1101.

Even though it is currently a very small community, there has been a long history of the presence of Jews in Calabria. The Jews have had a presence in the region for at least 1600 years and possibly as much as 2300 years. Calabrian Jews have had notably influence on many areas of Jewish life and culture. Although virtually identitical to the Jews of Sicily, the Jews of Calabria are considered a distinct Jewish population due to historical and geographic considerations. There is a small community of Italian Anusim who have resumed the Jewish faith.[109]

It is important to highlight the presence of Calabrians in Renaissance humanism and in the Renaissance. Indeed, the Hellenistics in this period frequently came from Calabria maybe because of the Greek influence. The rediscovery of Ancient Greek was very difficult because this language had been almost forgotten. In this period the presence of Calabrian humanists or refugees from Constantinople was fundamental. The study of Ancient Greek, in this period, was mainly a work of two monks of the monastery of Seminara: Barlaam, bishop of Gerace, and his disciple, Leonzio Pilato. Leonzio Pilato, in particular, was a Calabrian born near Reggio Calabria. He was an important teacher of Ancient Greek and translator, and he helped Giovanni Boccaccio in the translations of Homer's works.


See also: Calabrian wine

The cuisine is a typical southern Italian Mediterranean cuisine with a balance between meat-based dishes (pork, lamb, goat), vegetables (especially eggplant), and fish. Pasta (as in Central Italy and the rest of Southern Italy) is also very important in Calabria. In contrast to most other Italian regions, Calabrians have traditionally placed an emphasis on the preservation of their food and packing vegetables and meats in olive oil. Also making sausages and cold cuts (Sopressata, 'Nduja, Capocollo), along the coast curing fish – especially swordfish, sardines (sardelle rosamarina) and cod (Baccalà). Local desserts are typically fried, honey-sweetened pastries Cudduraci, Nacatole, Scalille or scalidde or baked biscotti-type treats (such as 'nzudda).

Some local specialties include Caciocavallo Cheese, Cipolla rossa di Tropea (red onion), Frìttuli and Curcùci (fried pork), Liquorice (liquirizia), Lagane e Cicciari (a pasta dish with chickpeas), Pecorino Crotonese (Cheese of Sheep), and Pignolata.

In ancient times Calabria was referred to as Enotria (from Ancient Greek Οἰνωτρία, Oenotria, "land of wine"). According to ancient Greek tradition, Οἴνωτρος (Oenotrus), the youngest of the sons of Lycaon, was the eponym of Oenotria.[110] Some vineyards have origins dating back to the ancient Greek colonists. The best known DOC wines are Cirò (Province of Crotone) and Donnici (Province of Cosenza). 3% of the total annual production qualifies as DOC. Important grape varieties are the red Gaglioppo and white Greco. Many producers are resurrecting local, ancient grape varieties which have been around for as long as 3000 years.[111]




  • Port of Gioia Tauro (the busiest container port in Italy and seventh-busiest in mainland Europe)[112]
  • Port of Reggio Calabria
  • Port of Vibo Valentia
  • Port of Villa San Giovanni
  • Port of Corigliano Calabro
  • Port of Crotone


Calabria has the two highest bridges in Italy


There are 3 public universities in the region of Calabria

There is also the private University for Foreigners "Dante Alighieri" in Reggio Calabria.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Arlacchi, Pino, and Jonathan Steinberg. Mafia, Peasants and Great Estates: Society in Traditional Calabria (2009)
  • Dal Lago, Enrico, and Rick Halpern, eds. The American South and the Italian Mezzogiorno: Essays in Comparative History (2002) ISBN 0-333-73971-X
  • Dunston, Lara, and Terry Carter. Travellers Calabria (Travellers – Thomas Cook) (2009), guidebook
  • Moe, Nelson. The View from Vesuvius: Italian Culture and the Southern Question (2002)
  • Schneider, Jane. Italy's 'Southern Question': Orientalism in One Country (1998)

External links[edit]